Archive for March, 2010

Panto Update

// March 13th, 2010 // No Comments » // Blog

For anyone who's interested, both end-of-IAW performances went really well, māshā’Allāh. Annoyingly, certain individuals insisted on comparing the brothers' panto to the sisters', even though those certain individuals were male, and thus had no idea what went on in the neighbouring lecture theatre. Pfft.

Anyhoo, there was a surprisingly good turnout for both shows, and in spite of certain technical difficulties (e.g., I managed to mess up the tech within 20 seconds of the sisters' play starting, and the brothers couldn't get all their videos running), the audience seemed to really enjoy themselves, māshā’Allāh. It was also very reassuring to see the girls laughing in all the right places when my videos played, as I was genuinely worried that I'd be the only one.

Admittedly, I am a little gutted that the guys will never get to see our routine, and therefore will continue to fail in their appreciation of the fact that girls can do comedy. However, there is something extremely liberating about knowing that your production is for female eyes only. Many things are made easier: for one, both the players and audience can get away with less 'dignified' behaviour, by acting the fool, and laughing freely, respectively. Even little things, like more freedom in the costume and makeup department, make all the difference.

In the case of filming, I don't have to fret about whether all the women in the shot are wearing hijab, or whether I'm too zoomed in onto their faces (I was instructed that this is a no-no for ISoc videos – fair enough). This means that the production can be far more inclusive, allowing the mingling of all types of Muslims, and even non-Muslims, which is the first step in the dawah process.

There are clearly downsides. In order to keep a tight control on who gets to see the films, I can't upload them online, which means realistically, only a handful of people will ever get to see them. I'm even loathe to place it under restricted access as it's not very difficult for passwords to be shared, and who knows who is in the room when the video is being played? It may seem paranoid, but the sisters who agree to star in my videos have placed their trust in me, and therefore, I have to be extra careful on their behalf.

Besides, if the only way such productions could be viewed securely is in person, it might be a great opportunity to allow women to regularly socialize in a safe, relaxed environment, especially in a world that is becoming increasing detached, superficial and impersonal. The internet is a powerful tool, but we shouldn't forget the traditional methods by which we seek to interact with our fellow human beings.

I'm aware that those who are against any kind of gender segregation will most likely be scoffing right now at all the efforts I'm going through, but I don't really care anymore. I've personally witnessed the benefits, so you can keep your arrogant sneering to yourself, thankyouverymuch. In the game of Science, observation always trumps theory, so in a word… ner.

I hope to kick start the Film Club soon. Now that I've worked with some sisters, and we have something to show for all our efforts, the recruitment process should become a lot easier, inshā’Allāh. May Allāh make it a beneficial endeavor for all involved, āmīn!

Panto Time

// March 12th, 2010 // 1 Comment » // Blog

This post is partly an extension of a message I left on TweetBook recently. Imperial College ISoc is sending off Islam Awareness Week by hosting two plays/pantos: each of which was written and shall be performed by the guys and gals of the ISoc, respectively.

Both plays take place on the evening of Friday, 12th March (i.e., in less than 24 hours!), in the SAF building (no. 33 on the map), at the South Kensington campus.

The sisters' play starts at 6.15pm (female-only audience), and the brothers' (all welcome) is straight after at 7pm, inshā’Allāh. I pray that the show runs by GMT, and not MST!

I'm not performing, but I have made three short videos for the sisters' play, and as of yesterday night, will be taking care of 'tech' (which basically means playing a list of odd, a capella sound effects on cue!).

Regarding the vids, this was my first time filming 'fictional' pieces, as opposed to conducting interviews or covering events, so I'm quite interested to see how well they're received, especially by the non-Muslim attendees. The ideas and scripts were written by other sisters; I was roped into filming and editing at the last minute, i.e., making their crazy ideas a reality!

At first, I was reluctant to help, mainly because the publicity team hadn't yet finished making the IAW trailer, I only had a week left to make the videos the girls wanted, and tbh, I kinda hate editing these days.

But when it actually came time to film, I had such a blast, I actually felt a bit guilty for not being more keen initially. And even better, going through the 100+ clips that we had amassed over two afternoons of filming was a joy in and of itself. I was often creasing with laughter during playback – which made me realize: it's not that I find editing a chore; it's that I find editing boring stuff a chore.

Anyone who regular goes through the process knows what I mean: you're sat alone in a room for hours on end, your backside getting progressively more numb whilst you traverse backwards and forwards through hours of footage, in order to find the best five minutes worth. Then you have to decide on the cuts and transitions between scenes, where mere microseconds can mean the difference between glory or disaster.

If you're lucky, you'll have a good soundtrack (music-free, if you swing that way) to work with – it really makes the job of editing 1000 times easier. But the 'No Musical Instruments' (and sometimes, no musically stuff whatsoever) barrier presents a real challenge. And frankly, I am getting pretty tired of the same five anasheed that every Muslim video-maker seems to use these days. Please people, we need some new material already!

Anyway. This whole experience has served as a nice prelude to the 'women-only film club' idea, that I recently proposed. At first I was umm-ing and ahh-ing about whether women-only would work, but māshā’Allāh, it really does. Especially when you have access to bright young minds. The results speak for themselves – which you can judge for yourself, if you're around tomorrow night, inshā’Allāh. :)